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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
UN warns of Bolivian coca danger
Bolivian soldier searches for coca
The UN urged Bolivia to show more commitment to cutting cultivation
Bolivia says it is determined to stop a rise in the cultivation of the raw material for cocaine, which was highlighted in a new UN report.

A senior official said the 17% increase in the past year was caused by farmers planting coca in more remote places.

Earlier, the UN Office for Drugs and Crimes said Bolivia needed urgent help to control production of the crop.

The agency said political instability of the sort that Bolivia had been experiencing encouraged coca-farming.

Parts of the country were paralysed in recent weeks by protesters calling for economic and constitutional reforms.

"Narcotics is a by-product of the crisis," top UNODC official Antonio Maria Costa said.

"The weaker the government, the greater the amount of land cultivated."

Praise for Colombia

The UNODC's annual survey showed a 3% increase in cultivation of the crop in the three Andean countries, which are the centre of global cocaine production.

Bolivia is the world's third largest coca grower.

Production rose by 14% in Peru, but cultivation fell by 7% in Colombia, which is the biggest grower in the world.

The US provides funds for drug eradication programmes in the country, such as aerial spraying and the development of alternative livelihoods for farmers.

The UNODC praised Colombia's efforts and called for aid to help to wean Bolivian growers off coca onto other crops.

However, Mr Costa played down last year's increase in cultivation.

He said the rise should not be seen as a shift in the trend in the Andean region, which has seen cultivation drop by almost a third since 2000, the Associated Press reports.

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